A Device Enabling Deaf and Hearing People to Communicate

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Scomm, Inc.
Raytown, MO 64133
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The goal of this research program is to explore the feasibility of developing a device to facilitate face-to-face communication between deaf and hearing people. sComm Inc. has had limited, but extremely positive, experience with a prototype device that allows two people to interact directly by typing messages to one another in a format that permits simultaneous display of both messages. Preliminary results suggest this straightforward approach is remarkably better than using an interpreter or handwritten messages. This work will be extended by investigating the willingness of hearing people to use this form of communication with deaf people in various settings, the willingness of deaf individuals to use the device and their experiences, the impact of the device on the employment of deaf people, the general impact of the device on the communication process, and the potential benefits of the device for deaf users beyond communication. In parallel, several design issues will be addressed to establish the feasibility of producing the device affordably. The importance of improved communication between deaf and hearing individuals cannot be overemphasized. Experience with the prototype suggests this device potentially can remove many barriers, giving deaf individuals freedom through communication with hearing individuals on a one-on-one basis.